How Do Shipping Label Printers Work? – Things to Know in 2023

Kyle Adam
Kyle Adam
Founder at - Printers Guider

Kyle Adam is a printer technician and the founder of this site. After completing his graduation in Computer Science and Engineering, he started work for...Read more

It’s a popular idea that shipping label printers don’t use inks! So, if you’re an interstate or international importer or exporter, how do you serve your clients better? If it’s through shipping label printouts, you’ll ask, “How do shipping label printers work?”

This article features diverse shipping label printers, and we’ll discuss them at length. We’ll highlight the importance of shipping labels, their setups, and how they work. Read the key facts below for a better insight into the functionalities of shipping label printers!

Key Facts:

  • The shipping label on a product protects it from getting to the wrong routes.
  • To be efficient in printing, utilize appropriate shipping label printers
  • Note that they don’t use ink; rather, they utilize label rolls and heat. People call this thermal paper.
  • Printing numerous shipping labels could be quite expensive and time-consuming, but it’s avoidable.
  • They use cartridges, and the thermal paper you use on the shipping label printers must have a layer of chemicals under it.
  • When these chemicals heat up, they let out the write-ups.

Types of The Shipping Label Printers

When you look for a shipping label printer, you’ll find a variety of options. Read the below section to know about them.

1. Thermal Transfer Printers

If you plan to print shipping labels of higher quality and are more durable, here’s your best pick. Thermal transfer printers are available in both desktop models and industrial models. The industrial model is ideal for working environments with a high printing demand.

Thermal Transfer Printers

These printers use ink ribbons that are made of resin or wax. The ribbons can also be a composite of both resin and wax. Thermal transfer printers use low heat, making them great for adhesive and facestock options such as plastic, polyester, and plastic. A pro of these printers is that they are not as expensive as most printers in their category. Hence, if you are doing business like, Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, etc. you’ll look for the best shipping label printer for these platforms, and a thermal transfer printer could be your ultimate choice.

2. Direct Thermal Printers

You can think of direct thermal printers as thermal transfer printers. However, the only difference is that they do not use a ribbon during printing. These printers contain a layer of chemicals beneath the surface of the label. This special layer of chemicals is designed to print images when it comes in contact with heat.

Direct Thermal Printers

Due to the special chemicals required for the operation, the labels used in this printer are more expensive. However, this is compensated for since you do not have to buy a printing ribbon. The setback of this kind of printer, though, is that they don’t produce prints that are as vibrant as that of thermal transfer printers.

3. Laser printers

This should be the one for you if you’re going for a less expensive printer. Laser printers use dry toner and a wet ink cartridge system that works both in black and full color. This makes it applicable in adding color-coding or graphics to your shipping labels. The print from these printers is quite durable but shouldn’t be subjected to excessive exposure to chemicals.

Importance of Shipping Label

Shipping labels on your brand will ensure that all commercial movements are smooth. You wouldn’t want your items surfing around the world without labels! Therefore, a glance through the importance of shipping labels below will prove it.

  • For quick identification of items: Labels always carry some unique write-ups, which include; the name of the item and other data. So, you can easily identify what the item goes for. Most times, the item might be new to you, but glancing through its label could set you going. A label on an item helps you to avoid the embarrassment of asking after such an item.
  • For items organization: Making your home, office, or store look organized is very important. Many people like to shop in a store that is in order. And what else could keep things in their places? Labels help the store owner to easily organize items in an alphabetical manner as he or she likes. The same goes for homes, kitchens, offices with books, or other places for items.

When a product has a label, the label tells the shop owner the category where the product belongs. So, they can just arrange such a product in the category line for customers to easily locate it.

  • Shipping labels have the item prices: You could reduce the stress of clients having to ask for the price of each item of choice.  Easy access to the price will make buying easier for all, so it’s important you label your brand from origin. Fixing the prices on the labels will not only quickens sales but hinder exploitation.
  • The labels show proper expiration dates: Many people avoid goods without expiration dates on their labels. Check the expiration dates on the product packaging and also on their labels. So, labels are vital to buying and selling items!

How Do You Set up A Printer to Print a Shipping Label?

Setting up a printer for printing shipping labels might be technical if you want a good delivery. So, we’ll break down the steps to make you understand it better.

How Do You Set up A Printer to Print a Shipping Label

Set the Layout of The Shipping Label

To do this;

  • Get started with the setting option of the printer
  • Enter the printing option and the Printing Setup option.
  • Then, check the label document and make sure it’s at 4” x 6” if you’re using a thermal label.

Set the Printer Preference

The printer preference is another space to look at when setting up your shipping label printer. To adjust this;

  • Enter the control panel of your printer, and right-click on your printer
  • It’ll display Printer Preferences and also Printer properties.
  • Then, set the Printer preference to match the DPI of the ShipStation.

Insert the Perfect Printer Driver

If your choice is the 4×6 size for your shipping label printer, it’s only right for you to use a paper that fits the size.  A thermal paper fits perfectly with the 4×6 size, so use it. A bigger size will disorganize your purpose of labeling.

How Do Shipping Label Printers Work?

The population of people using shipping label printers is rising since it’s not a new experience in the eCommerce industry. So, it’s a popular idea that shipping label printers apply heat to the paper to replicate an image to the paper. They’re different from regular printers because they don’t use inks.

How Do Shipping Label Printers Work

Instead of utilizing ink, they use label rolls that work with heat, called thermal papers. These shipping label printers come in three parts; the platen, the spring, and the thermal head.

  • The Platen: The platen in the shipping label printer only works to feed in more papers to the thermal head. This part holds the paper and feeds the thermal head appropriately. By so doing, the printing cycle continues for those in continuous shipping.
  • The thermal head: The thermal head generates heat. Its role is printing on the paper with the heat it generates. This thermal head produces substantial heat to print whatever you need on the paper. But it won’t be too much to melt the rubber part of the printer.
  • The spring: The work of the spring is to establish the contact between the thermal head and the paper. This part of the shipping label printer basically makes the thermal head touch the paper for the image to register on it. If this section gets bad, call for urgent repair for proper functionality.

Top Shipping Label Printers

  1. Rollo shipping label printers
  2. Brother QL-800 shipping label printers
  3. MUNBYN Thermal shipping label printers
  4. DYMO shipping label printers
  5. Arkscan 2054A shipping label printers
  6. K Comer shipping label printers
  7. AOBIO shipping label printers
  8. Zebra GKa2Od Direct Thermal Desktop Printer
  9. Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld shipping label printers
  10. MFLABEL shipping label printers
  11. Polono USB thermal shipping label printers

Classifications Based on Performance

Industrial Shipping Label Printer:

These innovations in the label printer are majorly for bulky printing in warehouses, factories, and other places. Industrial shipping label printer comes in small shapes, so they’re portable and easy to handle. The printer case is mostly hard, and they don’t use computers. ROLLO shipping label printers fall under this category.

Desktop Shipping Label Printer:

The desktop shipping label printer is for less work, unlike the industrial label printer. This printer doesn’t produce as much noise as a few other label printers. They’ve got enough spaces to hold a 100mm roll and even a 200mm roll. DYMO shipping label printers are a good pick for printers under this classification.

Label Printer Applicators:

The label printer applicator is one of the various types of shipping label printers in the market. They make you label items automatically. Many people use it in warehouses and big industries that ship out products. Some notable label printer applicators are the Stand Alone Label Applicator and Automatic Tube Sticker Labeler.

RFID printers

RFID printers also work as shipping label printers. This type of label printer is one that prints and also encodes in one space on RFID transponders. It is enclosed in any material that you can print on. Whether paper or any synthetic material that you can print on. Some noteworthy RFID printers ideal for printing your labels are the Color LaserJet Prof and the HP OfficeJet Pro.

How to Save Time and Money Printing Your Shipping Labels

Printing shipping labels can be quite expensive because you don’t ship just one item! So, you need massive labels for each product ready for shipping. That’s why, after printing the shipping labels, your profit from the sales might not be as much as your expectation.

Furthermore, to a large extent, massive printing takes time, and you wouldn’t delay products because of that. So, there’re always techniques to make the process faster and cheaper.  Check out below for such protocols;

  • Buy the shipping label printer and use it.

Although shipping label printers are expensive, the cost of giving people to print your labels is much higher. Giving a firm the job of printing on every shipping will make you spend something more than buying a shipping label printer.

Also, it saves time to get a shipping label printer and personally monitor your label printing. If you give the job to a printing company that has other jobs at hand, they will delay your job. So, get your labels ready and fast via printing by yourself.

  • Give a printing company the job in bulk.

Everyone is familiar with the discount that comes with bulky services. Some local vendors practice “Buy 5 products and get one of them for free,” which opens business ways for them. This same technique applies to most printing companies. When you give a massive label printing job, they don’t charge you per label, but they sum the cost of all and deduct some amount for you.

With this, you’ll pay for your label printing at a cheaper rate. Also, since the work is in bulk, the company will need to keep you as a regular customer. So, they’ll focus more on your job and deliver it on time.

  • Use shipping software.

Using shipping software is another easy technique for economizing the cost of printing. There are several shipping software online, like Easyship, to help reduce cost. The software is an intermediary between shipping companies to shippers with their set dashboard.


Am sure “How do shipping label printers work?” is no longer a puzzle to you after reading this blog! You also know now that shipping label printers don’t use inks! Well, as much as they don’t use ink, they’ve got other means of printing on the specific papers that they use. Heat-on-paper!

Furthermore, you’ve got it that printing shipping labels are quite expensive and time-consuming. However, we’re able to let you know diverse ways of making it cheap and quick. Just endeavor to get your own label printer and monitor your label printing!

Kyle Adam is a printer technician and the founder of this site. After completing his graduation in Computer Science and Engineering, he started work for a renowned printer manufacturing company as a printer technician. Besides his job, he also loves to do research and write about what he is dealing with in his everyday life; Printersguider is the result of that. Kyle created this site to educate those who need a specialized printer but don’t have proper knowledge about it.

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